summer reading

Yes, I am proud that one of the hallmarks of our home is that our children love to read. Summer is no different. In fact, this Summer it has been difficult to tear the children away from their books at times. I even stumbled onto a number of memoirs and have been enjoying some quiet, reading time myself. 

Roone and I began the Ranger's Apprentice series quite a while ago, maybe a year? A few months ago I could tell he was ready to move on reading the books by himself at his own speed (quicker than us reading together). He has finished the series and is ready for John Flanagan's, The Brotherband Chronicles. My children don't mind rereading books, and it seems Calvin and Hobbes, Arthur Scott Bailey's animal stories and Herge's Tin Tin are always in the loop for Roone. 

Ella came across the Warriors, Seekers and Survivors series written by Erin Hunter (a psuedonym for a group of authors). Ella loves these books where cats are the dominant species. I really don't know much about them, other than tidbits Ella shares about cats being, well, dominant. We are not a cat family (Jesse is allergic and we both are skeptical of cats), but Ella has vowed to be a cat lady when an adult, so this series is a fun fit for her. We seem to be ever rechecking these out from the library, a handful are always here for her to read. She frequently is reading more than one book at a time, usually the Anne of Green Gables or Redwall series. Right now she is reading Little Women and making comparisons to The Penderwick series. It's fun to hear the children's perspectives and insights independent from our questions or a specific assignment.

The first garden  memoir I read a number of years ago was Michael Pollan's Second Nature. Since I enjoy gardening it was a non-technical way of learning about plants with the author's life as a backdrop. The days of textbook learning is long past for me, but a memoir with good information can be an educational tool too. So I've come across a few more memoirs that have been enjoyable reads:
  • If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende
  • The Gardener of Versailles by Alain Baraton
  • Paths of Desire by Dominique Browning
  • The Gardener's Bed-Book by Richard Wright
  • All the Presidents' Gardens by Marta McDowell (not a memoir)
  • Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden by Reginald Arkell (not a memoir)
I'm still working my way through All the Presidents' Gardens, a history of the White House gardens president by president. I put it aside to read The Gardener of Versailles which was quite the distraction. I mean, reading about the grandest of French royal gardens and the city of Versailles which was a template for the design of Washington D.C. The original is overshadowing our countries capital! I do mean to finish it, though.

My favorite book from this list, and such a good summer read, is Old Herbaceous, the fictional story of a head gardener at an English manor house. First published in 1950 it is so charming. The gardener comes from unlikely circumstances and poverty to charm the lady of the manor as a young boy and then rise the ranks to become her head gardener. He's a quiet and grumpy in his personal relations while his affections are solely focused on the gardens. In fact, I need to read this one again. 

I also came across Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series which I need to preview for the kids. It's about the sailing adventures of two groups of children, written in the spirit of The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, however its publication preceded those two popular series. It is such a joy to discover new-to-me authors like Elizabeth Goudge, E. Nesbit, Jim Kjelgaard, Felx Salten, Frank L. Baum, Edward Eager, Madeleine L'Engle, and more. I didn't read any of these authors as a child, but even reading them now with the children they hold my interest in that they aren't children's books. They are books written for children's comprehension but hold the interest of young and old because their stories are timeless and transcend age. I love that the childrens' imaginations have been able to enjoy these fictional worlds, it also hasn't hurt to expand their vocabulary!

I've rambled on, but being able to write so much about our reading adventures makes me so grateful that we take the time to have them. 


Debra said…
A friend was suggesting those cat books for Gretchen. I'll have to check them out sometime! I did not know of Ella's aspirations to become a cat lady. If she's open to it, maybe she can do some stopping in at our home when we are on vacation next year to take care of our cat. For pay, of course!
Rachel said…
I'm sure Ella would love to care for your cat ~ cat lady in training.